David Cameron’s Easter message: “This Government does care about faith”

There’s plenty of talk in today’s papers about former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey’s, article in the Daily Mail where he accuses David Cameron of doing more than any other recent political leader to make Christians feel they are becoming a persecuted minority.  He opens by saying:

‘I like David Cameron and believe he is  genuinely sincere in his desire to make Britain a generous nation where we care  for one another and where people of faith may exercise their beliefs  fully.

‘But it was a bit rich to hear that the Prime  Minister has told religious leaders that they should ‘stand up and oppose  aggressive secularisation’ when it seems that his government is aiding and  abetting this aggression every step of the way.’

Lord Carey acknowledges that talk of persecution of Christians in this country is much more a perception than a reality, but he goes on to list various examples where the Government is continuing to chip away at the Christian heritage of the United Kingdom.  The comments by David Cameron that Lord Carey refers to were made at his annual Easter reception for church leaders last week (20 March).

I’ve been keen to find out what David Cameron actually said as most press reports have just included extracts.  After a long rummage through the internet, I’ve finally found and having read it I thought it would make sense to share it.  Here is the full transcript:

‘An extraordinarily warm welcome to this, the third Easter reception here at Number 10. When I became Prime Minister, I spotted that we were holding receptions for Eid and for Diwali, but we weren’t holding a reception for Christians, and so I introduced this. And I think it’s right to have it at Easter, the most important Christian festival, the one that has all the challenges of faith, but really is all about – for me, anyway – the triumph of life over death. So, you’re very welcome.

‘It’s an extraordinary week for Christians as we’ve had the new Pope yesterday (19 March), with extraordinary scenes and a great change that will be. And tomorrow (21 March) I am very excited about going to Canterbury to see Justin Welby become our new Archbishop, and so this is a great week for Christians and it’s wonderful to have you here to share.

‘I do have a serious message for you tonight, and the message is that this Government does care about faith; it does care about the institutions of faith and it does want to stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation that can sometimes happen in our society. As I’ve said, it’s a good week to celebrate not just the importance of faith in our country, but also the importance of faith institutions in our country in this week when we’ve seen a new Pope and we will see a new Archbishop, because these institutions do matter.

‘Father Gillean Craig from St Mary Abbots gave a brilliant sermon last Sunday to say, ‘Well, what is it that the arrival of a new Pope and the arrival of a new Archbishop and our annual church meeting have in common?’ He made the very good point that institutions matter whether they are enormous, representing the billions of Catholics in the world, or whether they are small, local institutions that help bring our communities and our country together.

‘And so my message for you is that we should have faith, we should have hope and we should have charity. And a word on each: we should have faith because I know that our churches and particularly that our established church sometimes can struggle to attract new members of the congregation and it can sometimes, in any organisation, be a struggle. But actually what we have seen in London over the last decade is actually a 70% increase in the Church, and I think this is going to be what the new Archbishop will bring, which is a sense that if you can enthuse people, if you can fire people up, if you can show what institutions of faith can do, you can attract audiences, you can attract members, you can attract enthusiasm. So, we should have faith.

‘The second is hope. Yes, it’s a very difficult time in our country; yes, we’re having to take difficult decisions, and those difficult decisions affect people. But I hope that you can see that even in the midst of a difficult budget and difficult decisions that actually something very big and important happened today, which is that we have kept the promise to spend 0.7% of our gross national income on aid to the poorest in our world. And I think that is something we should celebrate, as Christians and as human beings.

‘I’m very proud of the fact we have appointed the first ever Minister for Faith, Sayeeda Warsi, and she has a voice at the Cabinet table; she does a brilliant job. We’ve sent out a very clear message to aggressive secularists: we changed the law so that people can go on saying prayers before council meetings. Michael Gove made the very brave decision, I thought, and right decision to give every state school a copy of the King James Bible. Some people said, ‘What a waste of money;’ I say no, I think it was a great use of money. This book is one of the things that made our country what it is today in terms of its messages and its brilliant language.

‘And, of course, I hope you can have hope in the fact that while Christians are being persecuted around our world, actually under this Government the Foreign Office has a very clear attitude of wanting to stand up for the rights of Christians and minorities all across the world. And we make – you know, I want you – to reassure you that when I meet with foreign leaders – whether it’s President Morsi in Egypt, whether it is President of Pakistan – wherever we go we stand up for the rights of Christians to practice their faith, and that is an important part of our country.

‘Finally, in terms of charity, I just wanted to celebrate again what it is that our faith communities do in terms of what I call the Big Society – in terms of the extraordinary richness of the voluntary bodies who work with prisoners, who work with young people, who work in very difficult and tough communities, who turn people’s lives around, who help the poorest in our country – the huge nature of the organisations that faith groups and church groups and Christian groups support. And I think that space is getting larger as you see organisations backing academy schools or setting up free schools – as you see organisations getting into the provision of services not just to the vulnerable, but more widely. I think it’s something we should celebrate and we should stand up for.

‘So, it’s great to have you here. That was my message: we want to celebrate faith. We want to celebrate the importance of faith institutions. We want to celebrate this important time at Easter with all of you, and we want to thank you for everything you do to put into our community and to help build our country. So, you’re very welcome. It’s wonderful to have you here and have a very, very happy Easter.’

Source: Official Number 10 government website

David Cameron does deserve credit for allowing Christianity and religious faith to be discussed by government ministers in an open way that was not the case under the previous Labour government and his Easter receptions are a welcome part of that.  I do believe he genuinely values the role of churches in this country and the valuable contribution Christians make to our society by engaging with their communities and in particular people who most others would choose to avoid.  But despite this, Lord Carey is right to say that there is a level of distrust towards the Government from many Christians.  From my viewpoint, the consensus is that David Cameron and his Government are happy to support Christians if it fits with what they want to do politically, but if the two are at odds then religious opinion and views by and large get ignored.  And this is where the problem lies.

Lord Carey quotes a ComRes poll released today that suggests that more than three-quarters of Christians believe that  the Government is not listening.  As we know, words will only get you so far.  Actions speak much louder and it is on the actions of his government that David Cameron will be judged by.  So thank you David Cameron for your words of support of Christians, but don’t expect them to be taken at face value.

Updated March 31st

This is the official Prime Minister’s Easter message released on Easter Sunday 2013:

“I send my best wishes to all those in the United Kingdom and around the world celebrating Easter this year in what is an incredibly exciting time for the Christian faith worldwide.

“This year’s Holy Week and Easter celebrations follow an extraordinary few days for Christians; not only with the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop of Canterbury, but also with the election of Pope Francis in Rome.

“In the Bible, Saint Peter reminds us of the hope that comes from new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christians, it also reminds us of Jesus’s legacy of generosity, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness.

“That legacy lives on in so many Christian charities and churches both at home and abroad. Whether they are meeting the needs of the poor, helping people in trouble, or providing spiritual guidance and support to those in need, faith institutions perform an incredible role to the benefit of our society. As long as I am Prime Minister, they will have the support of this Government.

“With that in mind, I am particularly proud to lead a Government that has kept its promise to invest 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on helping the world’s poorest, and I am grateful that we have been able to partner with both Christian and non-Christian charities to relieve suffering overseas.

“I hope you have a very happy Easter.”

Happy Easter to you Mr Cameron.  I pray that you may experience the love and blessing of Jesus too.

Categories: David Cameron, Faith in society, Government

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8 replies

  1. Very well put. The PM words are sound. The test is in his governments actions me thinks.

  2. Of course the government cares about faith. Social services in this country would collapse if the religious sector withdrew. Poor Mr Cameron and his ilk, they need to walk a very very tight rope. Ah well. They can take comfort from their bank accounts.

  3. Timely, very timely, Well Done Sir

  4. Thanks for the transcript; not sure about the implicit support for Lord Carey shooting his mouth off again, though – the man needs to let go and let his successors get on with representing the church. Good response here: Lord Carey to offer training course for retired clergy

  5. “Not everyone who calls me Lord will net the Kingdom, for there will be many who will say….

    Why do you call me Lord, and do not the things I say?

    By their fruit you shall know them…

    He that hears my words and DOES them will be like he that builds on rock….”

    Don’t take much comfort from nice words from Mr Cameron, what is done is what matters.

    Today in the UK the government supports Christian values and principles are despised and rejected,

    what is needed to strengthen families cast aside for favour of generating tax,
    ( sorry son/daughter, it’s better for both your mom and dad to be raising taxes than to be at home giving you the love,care and nurture you need to build your esteem and worth)

    marriage considered to be just a “loving feeling” anyone can have about anyone,

    sexual liberality is destroying hearts and homes, the consequences of abortion, disease, betrayal, emotional and physical abuse something we just pick the pieces up from.

    After all, the secularists and humanists tell the nation Christian values are just a belief arent they? They don’t have any proven practical out working?

    You can’t have your cake, and then still eat it.

    You can’t cast aside the very principles that have proven to make the family strong, communities safe, bring real hope, and establish a nation, and then make nice platitudes!, Because with the very principles gone ( and many christian values are not a matter of belief, but have proven to work for millenia) that establish what we take for granted, it won’t be long before the real mess starts to hit home. It’s already happening and it will get worse.

    How do I know?

    That man Jesus never claimed for people to just have a belief in him. He told them they could prove it for themselves.

    Jesus said if we do what he says, when storms come ( and they will) what we build will survive, if we don’t do what he says, when the storms come, what we have built will fall flat.

    Either Jesus was telling the truth or that principle is nonsense. Actually, it is true. Millions have done so for millenia, that is why we have a christian heritage, because people did not just believe, they did.

    Try it yourself.

  6. It is good that David Cameron has redressed the balance by giving a reception for Christian leaders and agree with Tracey that the Big society is very dependent on faith action as social capital. David Cameron is a modernizer like Tony Blair before him and he is rejecting some traditional Tory values which is why conservative party membership has almost halved during his leadership with many finding a new home with U.K.I.P. The church is still seen as something traditional as witnessed with the synod vote on women bishops which the prime minister opposes. Being socially liberal he represents a departure from many previous conservative leaders. Its in this area where there will be conflict with many Christians. The way the legislation has been framed for same sex marriage leaves it open to challenge through European equality law not least that denominations are being treated differently.which may also have the effect of bringing about disestablishment of Church from state. I suspect that he realizes ”protections” for churches within that legislation may not survive a challenge in Europe,so like Pilate, he will be able to wash his hands of the whole thing. On the issue of the right to wear a cross at work he supported Christians in public statements whilst at the same time government lawyers were arguing the opposite case and as Gillan reported earlier his statements on the importance of supporting marriage and families through the tax system has not been matched by action.

  7. Well! What can be said about the leader of “a Christian Country” (David Cameron’s own declaration) who continues in disobedience to God through his Conservative political agenda. An age old Conservative agenda to further enrich the rich and further impoverish the poor. Where the “Conservative Party Spin” has been relentless in the demonization of the poor. Now, surely as a country we are no longer merely financially bankrupt but have now become morally bankrupt.

    Before Mr. Cameron became Prime Minister during the elections, I heard a word from the Lord in prayer: saying that the “new PM’s name was David” and that he “David” had a “Poison Chalice to give the people.” Now there was at that time a decision being made about who was to become the Labour Leader, ‘David Milliband” being at that time the assumed successor to Gordon Brown. David Milliband then lost that battle and it became clear that it was David Cameron that the Lord was referring to.

    Since, David Cameron came to power he has indeed fed the people from this poison chalice claiming that he recognizes that the UK is a Christian country and claiming to be operating with Christians values when he is clearly doing the opposite.

    The Chalice that should contain the wine of the Christian Communion and contained in that the healing and redemption of Christ (those things that strengthen the spirit of man and restore us) and reconcile us to God.

    God’s word seems to now have manifested as David Cameron is offering the people societal “poison” under the guise of Christianity. He ought to stop using something Holy to commit unholy acts against the poor and the Christians of this “Christian Country.”

    In his Easter speech he says that he is continuing to look after the poor abroad. An admirable thing this would be had he not at the same time been trampling on the poor in this land! The bible says that charity should begin at home. Maybe he hasn’t read that bit?

    He also speaks of “Hope.” The bible clearly says that Jesus came for the poor. The financially poor and the poor in spirit. When you are at the bottom of society living in poverty under a Govt. that calls for the people to revile you whilst deepening your poverty by adding council tax, bedroom tax and reducing your benefit you will become poor in spirit and devoid of hope.

    There is a culture blossoming from this Governmental tree that encourages in others unchristian values of oppression of the poor. It interlaces with the practice of companies to not employ anyone who has been unemployed for more than 6 months, resulting in HR departments and agencies binning CV’s in that bracket trapping those who desperately need to work in a never ending cycle of perpetual poverty.

    Recently God spoke a word to me in February of this year saying: “Tell David Cameron to get his dirty boots off the poor and the people of God!”

    I have heard the voices of the Church rise this Easter Sunday in that regard and our new Archbishop certainly gave his opinion after his ordination regarding things being done against the poor and against people of faith in this country. I saw Mr. Cameron squirming a little when the cameras were on him during the Archbishop’s speech in Canterbury as he should, these acts against the people having been dealt by his own hand.

    He has met his match I feel with the new Archbishop who I hope will continue to challenge this unrighteous Government.

    The Holy Spirit is stirring up the UK (England in particular). Assuming that Mr. Cameron has read and understood his bible he should be aware that God neither sleeps nor slumbers and he sees what is done to the poor and the people of God and there is recompense to pay to HIM.

    As Proverbs 17:5 says:
    He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;
    He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

    Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator;
    gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.

    Whoever mocks the poor reproaches his Maker, and he who is glad at calamity shall not be held innocent or go unpunished.

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